I confess – I never thought it would last this long – not these Chronicles, not this pandemic, not these closures, not the restrictions. I never thought we would go this long without sports or music. I never thought churches would still be closed.
Guess I should take a clue from the number fifty as to how long this is lasting. Of course it is more than fifty days, closer to eighty depending on when you think this all got started. But what irony it should end like this, this journey of distance and isolation. We were told some things would be opening up this month, with the provision that things could change at any time. Still there was hope on the horizon.
Then in cities everywhere, the very businesses that were on the verge of reopening, having survived the COVID-19 crisis, fell victim to looters and arsonists. These businesses have been killed not by the COVID-19 virus but by the violence of criminals committing crime. Essential businesses that were already open have now been effectively shutdown also, by the same vandalism and arson.
I guess the reopening debate in these places no longer needs to be debated. There is nothing left to reopen in the areas and communities where the riots occurred. The promise of reopening had given people hope that they would be called back to work when permission was given to open these various businesses back up. They were so close. Now what?
It is interesting that while our streets are packed full of protesters by day and full of rioters by night, our houses of worship remain empty. I guess the rules and restrictions on number of people allowed to be together in any one location while maintaining required social distance at all times don’t apply to them? If those regulations did apply to them, they could all be arrested and jailed, just like the salon owner in Texas.
Our churches aren’t just places of worship, they are places of prayer. In Isaiah 56:7 we read, “for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Jesus told the people in the temple the same thing saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” (Matthew 21:13)
Why is this important right now? Because, while our streets are filled with people protesting, our houses of prayer need to be filled also, filled with people praying, people crying out to God for our country, for our world, for each other.
“if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15)
Our land certainly needs healing as never before. We need prayer as never before, yet we find that our houses of prayer are closed to us at this most critical moment in our nation’s history. It is our prayer houses that need to be full, not our streets in the dark.
Fortunately, we can pray from our homes, from our prayer closets, from our front porches and from our driveways. We can cry out from this deep pit we find ourselves in and we are heard.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
“I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me.” (Psalm 120:1)
How good it is to know that someone hears me, that I do not cry out in vain. I think that’s all the protesters really want, to be heard – for their voices to be heard and acknowledged. They want to know that they matter, that they have value. Each one of us wants that very same thing. So we end up fighting each other.
Turns out, all along we have been fighting the wrong enemy. A quote from one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans, explains this. When white Bertier says to black teammate Julius, “I was afraid of you, Julius. I only saw what I was afraid of, and now I know I was only hating (fighting against) my brother.”
We are all supposed to be fighting the enemy we have in common, the virus, COVID-19. This virus has been called the invisible enemy for the obvious reason that it is invisible to our human eyes. We cannot discern its presence but we suffer its effects.
In the same way, we all have another enemy in common who is also invisible – invisible and even more deadly than COVID-19. Ephesians 6:12-13 & 18, explains it this way,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. . . . With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
There’s that praying again. It begins and ends with prayer. And we don’t have a prayer apart from prayer of turning this situation in our country around. Prayer is powerful, especially from a posture of humility on one’s knees. Who would think that the war against our mutual, invisible enemies will be won on our knees? But it will.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
sincerely, Grace Day